Bundaberg’s Ari Maatta has his sights set on flying solo on the day of his 15th birthday and he is well on his way after winning Australian Air League Queensland Junior Cadet of the Year.
The 11-year-old cadet at the Bundaberg Squadron of the Australian Air League said he aspires to become a commercial pilot with Qantas or Cathay Pacific.
Ari said he’d flown as a passenger overseas to China and Hong Kong and couldn’t wait to be part of the industry as a pilot flying people across the world.
The Bundaberg Christian College Year 6 student said there was reports of a looming shortage of pilots and he hoped to help combat this by becoming a pilot as soon as he could.
“I watch a lot of YouTube about the 2022 rebuilding of the pilot shortage,” Ari said.
“And that’s one reason why I want to become a pilot.”
Ari has love of flying since age of three
Hearing her son wanted to have his pilot’s licence at the age of 14 wasn’t particularly music to Tammy Maatta’s ears, but she said it was his dream from a young age and she would help him fulfil it.
“Since Ari was about three years old he had an obsession with planes,” Tammy said.
“I was a day-care mum and we would have to set the dining chairs up to make a pretend plane for Ari to fly, with the other children pretending to be the passengers and all.
“When Ari told me today that he would like to fly solo for his 15th birthday, and would do it with or without my help I thought ‘it’s a bit daunting'. I mean, it’s scary enough knowing he will get a car licence let alone a licence to fly!”
Tammy said Ari was kept busy in the meantime building his own air simulator in the family home and she was extremely proud of him.
Bundaberg Squadron Officer Commanding Annette Goodwin said the sky certainly seemed like the limit for Ari after he recently won the Queensland Junior Cadet award.
Annette said Ari was dedicated to learning what he could about aviation and his goal was to complete his aviation diploma by next year and he was well on his way to doing so.
New members always welcome at Australian Air League
The Bundaberg Squadron of the Australian Air League is now recruiting new members who could potentially be the next aviation pioneer, just like Bert Hinkler.
The Australian Air League is a youth organisation, for both boys and girls aged from eight to 18 years, which provides cadets with leadership and life skills while encouraging interest in aviation as a career or hobby.
Annette said, at the moment, there was only five cadets and two officers at the local branch and said anyone looking for a new adventure could look at becoming a new member.
Last weekend was engaging for the Bundaberg Squadron, which was joined by Hervey Bay Squadron, as they attended the Northern Region Powered Flight Day held in Bundaberg.
Annette said officers and cadets had the opportunity to fly in a Cessna 172 piloted by LCDR Douglas Heath and learn about spotting landmarks, altitude, clouds and more.
“We are desperately looking for not only more members but officers to join,” Annette said.
“Anyone with an interest and a BlueCard can become an officer.”
She said Air League members learnt leadership skills they would carry with them for life and would walk away with a certain discipline all while having fun.
The Bundaberg Squadron meets during the school terms, on Friday from 6-9pm at Bundaberg Air League Headquarters, Kendalls Road.
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